The Anonymous Widower

The Future Of Class 378 Trains

This post is a musing on the future of the Class 378 trains.

The Thames Tunnel

The Thames Tunnel is the tail that wags the East London Line, when it comes to trains.

  • For evacuation and safety purposed, trains running through the tunnel, must have an emergency exit through the driver’s cab.
  • It hasn’t happened yet, as far as I know, but a version of Sod’s Law states if you ran trains without this emergency exit, you’d need to use it.
  • London Overground’s Class 378 trains have this feature, but their Class 710 trains do not.

So it would appear that until Bombardier build an Aventra with an emergency exit through the driver’s cab, that the existing Class 378 trains must work all services through the Thames Tunnel.

Incidentally, I can’t think of another long tunnel, that might be served by the London Overground, so it could be that Class 378 trains will be the only trains to go through the Thames Tunnel, until they wear out and need to go to the scrapyard.

Six Car Trains On The East London Line

I covered this in Will The East London Line Ever Get Six-Car Trains? and I came to this conclusion.

I will be very surprised if Network Rail’s original plan on six-car trains on the East London Line happens in the next few years.

It might happen in the future, but it would need expensive platform extensions at Shadwell, Wapping, Rotherhithe and Canada Water and Surrey Quays stations.

Increased Frequency On The East London Line

If five-car Class 378 trains are the limit, the only way to increase capacity of the East London Line would be to increase frequency.

The current frequency of the East London Line is sixteen trains per hour (tph)

There are four tph on each of these routes.

  • Dalston Junction And Clapham Junction
  • Dalston Junction And New Cross
  • Highbury & Islington And Crystal Palace
  • Highbury & Islington And West Croydon

Two increases are planned.

  • 2018 – 6 tph – Highbury & Islington And Crystal Palace
  • 2019 – 6 tph – Dalston Junction And Clapham Junction

This would increase the frequency of the East London Line to twenty tph.

It will probably mean an updated digital signalling system on the East London Line.

Eventually, I think it likely, that a full ERTMS system as is fitted to Thameslink and Crossrail will be fitted to at least the East London Line, but possibly the whole Overground network.

Digital signalling would certainly allow the twenty-four tph frequency of Thameslink and CXrossrail, which could mean that the four routes all received a frequency of four tph.

But Thameslink and Crossrail are theoretically capable of handling thirty tph or a train every two minutes, through their central tunnels.

If the two modern multi-billion pound tunnels can handle 30 tph, why can’t their little brother, that started life as a half-million pound pedestrian tunnel in 1843,

The Number Of Trains Needed For The Current Service

If I go through the routes of the original Overground, I find the following.

Dalston Junction And Clapham Junction

Trains take 46 minutes to go South and 44 minutes to come North and a round trip would take two hours.

This means that the current four tph service would need eight trains.

A six tph service in the future would need twelve trains.

Dalston Junction And New Cross

Trains take 22 minutes both ways and a round trip would take an hour.

This means that the current four tph service would need four trains.

A six tph service in the future would need six trains.

Highbury & Islington And Crystal Palace

Trains take 44 minutes to go South and 43 minutes to come North and a round trip would take two hours.

This means that the current four tph service would need eight trains.

A six tph service in the future would need twelve trains.

Highbury & Islington And West Croydon

Trains take 52 minutes both ways and a round trip would take two hours.

This means that the current four tph service would need eight trains.

A six tph service in the future would need twelve trains.

This means that the current four tph on all four routes needs twenty-eight trains.

The Proposed 2020 Service

This will have two extra tph to Crystal Palace and Clapham Junction and will need thirty-six trains.

Six Trains Per Hour On All Four Routes

as each route terminates at both ends in a single platform, which can handle six tph, with the right signalling, I feel that this could be the design objective of the East London Line, when it was built in the early-2010s.

This could be achieved with forty-two trains, leaving perhaps twelve to fifteen trains for other duties, depending on how many are needed on stand-by or are in maintenance.

What Could Be Done With Twelve Trains?

As I calculated earlier, three routes need twelve trains to provide a six tph service.

  • Dalston Junction And Clapham Junction
  • Highbury & Islington And Crystal Palace
  • Highbury & Islington And West Croydon

All three services take between 44 and 52 minutes.

So could another six tph service that takes around this time be added to the current four services?

Willesden Junction As A Northern Terminal

Trains could take the North London Line to Willesden Junction and terminate in the Bay Platform 2.

I estimate the following timings from Willesden Junction.

  • Highbury & Islington – 27 mins
  • Dalston Junction – 31 mins
  • Whitechapel –  – 41 mins
  • New Cross – 49 mins
  • Crystal Palace – 64 mins
  • Clapham Junction – 73 mins.
  • West Croydon – 74 mins

It would appear that the only possible Southern terminal of the current four, would be New Cross, as that is the only terminal within the 44-52 minute range of journey time.

So could a service between Willesden Junction and New Cross replace the current one between Dalston Junction and New Cross?

  • It would need to be run using dual-voltage trains
  • Voltage changeover could be at Highbury & Islington station.
  • Extending the New Cross service would free up a bay platform at Dalston Junction station.
  • It should be possible to have a frequency of six tph.
  • Serious modifications or additions to infrastructure would probably not be required.

As running to Willesden Junction was talked about before the Overground opened, I wonder if the numerous crossovers on the North London Line, already allow trains from the East London Line to terminate at Willesden Junction.

Southern Terminals Via New Cross Station

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at New Cross station.

Note how the double-track East London Line, shown in orange, arrives from Surrey Quays station arrives in the North-Western corner of the map, becomes a single-track and then goes under the main lines before going into the bay platform D.

This Google Map shows the same area.

The London Overground track is clearly visible.

Could extra track be added, to enable the following?

  • Southbound trains could join the main line and stop in Platform C
  • Northbound could leave the main line after stopping in Platform A and go towards Surrey Quays station.

If this is possible, then trains could run between Dalston Junction and Lewisham stations.

Once at Lewisham they would have choice of Southern terminal,

Hayes As A Southern Terminal

Consider a service between Dalston Junction and Hayes stations.

  • I estimate that a train could go between the two stations in 53 minutes.
  • Hayes station has two terminal platforms

Six tph would probably be too many services, but 2-3 tph might be very welcome.

Orpington As A Southern Terminal

Consider a service between Dalston Junction and Orpington stations.

  • I estimate that a train could go between the two stations in 47  minutes.
  • Orpington station has three terminal platforms.

Six tph would probably be too many services, but 2-3 tph might be very welcome.

A Combined Hayes And Orpington Service

As a case can be made for services to both Hayes and Orpington via Lewisham, I think the ideal service could be two tph to both Hayes and Orpington.

  • There would be four tph between Dalston Junction and Lewisham.
  • Stations on the East London Line would have access to the important interchange station at Lewisham.
  • Several stations on the routes to Hayes and Orpington would have a two tph service to Crossrail and the Jubilee Line.

Other Stations Via New Cross

Looking at rail maps, there would seem to be several possibilities including with their times from Dalston junction station.

  • Beckenham Junction – 41 mins
  • Bromley North – 40 mins
  • Gove Park – 35 mins

There are probably others.

Southern Terminals Via Peckham Rye Station

As an example Streatham Common station is planned to be a major interchange and is 43 minutes from Dalston Junction.

Would a bay platform work here as an East london Line terminal?

Conclusion

If all fifty-seven Class 378 trains worked the East London Line, they could run six tph on the current routes.

  • Dalston Junction And Clapham Junction
  • Dalston Junction And New Cross
  • Highbury & Islington And Crystal Palace
  • Highbury & Islington And West Croydon

It would need forty-two trains.

Suppose the Dalston Junction and New Cross service was replaced with a Willesden Junction and New Cross service.

  • This would provide a useful direct four tph service between East and North London.
  • Changing at Highbury & Islington station would be avoided for a lot of journeys.
  • The journey time wold be around 49 minutes.
  • A two tph service would need four trains.
  • A four tph service would need eight trains.
  • A six tph service would need twelve trains.
  • Many journeys between North and South London would now be possible with just a single same platform interchange.

To run the following frequencies on this route would mean these total frequencies on the East London Line and total numbers of trains.

  • 2 tph – 20 tph – 40 trains
  • 4 tph – 22 tph – 44 trains
  • 6 tph – 24 tph – 48 trains

I think that if the figures are juggled a bit, there is enough trains to run extra services to one or more Southern destinations from Dalston Junction.

My preference would be a split service of 2 tph to both Hayes and Orpington via New Cross, where some new track would be needed.

This would do the following.

  • Create a frequent connection between South-East and North-East London.
  • Both areas would be connected to Crossrail and several Underground Lines, including the future Bakerloo Line Extension.
  • The Hayes Line would be shared between Overground and Southeastern trains.

No more new trains or large amounts of new infrastructure would be needed.

I suspect that London Overground and the new Southeastern franchise can do better than my musings.

 

 

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Self-Driving Trains Will Run Every 2½ Minutes On Main Lines

This is the title of an article in today’s copy of The Times.

The main line in question is the Thameslink route though central London.

Some will cynically groan and mutter that this will be another excuse for labour troubles.

However, this is said in the article.

Aslef, the train drivers’ union, has supported the use of the system if a driver is retained on all services. It cautions, though, against the use of the technology on other parts of the Victorian network outside central London.

If you look at the titmetable between St. Pancras and Blackfriars station from 09:00 to 10:00 on a Monday morning, then nine trains will pass along the route.

After the 2½ minute headway is introduced, this will be increased to twenty-four trains per hour (tph).

I think that just on the number of trains per hour, this would mean a substantial increase of train crew. If the factor were to be 24/9, that would be a near 170% increase in train crew.

Surely, Aslef won’t find that unacceptable!

If this use of modern signalling technology should work according to specification, surely we will be seeing it on other busy sections of the UK rail network. It is already gong to be used on Crossrail, but there are other places, where it would probably be beneficial.

  • Between Wimbledon and Waterloo.
  • On the Ordsall Chord in Manchester.
  • Between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
  • Between Shenfield and Liverpool Street.
  • East London Line between Dalston Junction and Surrey Quays

Note that money has already been allocated by Chris Gtayling to do a study to see if Transpennine services would benefit from this type of modern signalling.

Not all of these routes will be operating at twenty-four tph, however some will surely see a great improvement in services.

The East London Line

The East London Line will be running twenty tph from 2020.

Sir Marc Brunel and his famous son;  Isambard would be astonished at the capacity of their Thames Tunnel, that was started in the 1820s and opened in 1843.

The Ordsall Chord

The Ordsall Chord will connect Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Deansgate, Salford Central and Manchester Victoria stations with a high capacity double-track railway through the centre of Manchester. But it is also entangled with other routes in the area.

  • Manchester Victoria to Bolton via Salford Central and Salford Crescent.
  • Manchester Victoria to Liverpool via Salford Central and Chat Moss.
  • Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly to Bolton via Manchester Oxford Road, Deansgate and Salford |Crescent.
  • Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly to Liverpool via Manchester Oxford Road, Deansgate and Chat Moss
  • Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly to Warrington via Manchester Oxford Road and Deansgate

Probably the highest frequency will be between Deansgate and Manchester Piccadilly, where according to Wikipedia, the following services will run.

  • Four tph between Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria via Manchester Piccadilly.
  • Six tph between Manchester Piccadilly and Chat Moss or Bolton and Preston.

But that is for starters and if Thameslink is anything to go by, trains on one side of Manchester and Salford will be linked to trains on the other side of the conurbation to release platform space at both Manchester Victoria and Manchester Piccadilly stations.

Just as automatic train control has increased the capacity of Thameslink, it will increase the capacity through Manchester.

Shenfield To Liverpool Street

Crossrail will take over the slow lines and these will probably be subject to automatic train control to handle up to sixteen tph between Stratford and Gidea Park stations.

In addition Greater Anglia have expansion plans and it looks like they’s be running at least twelve tph on the fast lines, almost all of which won’t stop between Stratford and Shenfield.

Will it be decided to add a degree of automatic train control to the new trains on this route?

About The Technology

If anybody is worried about this sort of signalling, the following should be born in mind.

  • Most airliners are flown automatically, whilst the pilots monitor everything and take control as required.
  • The Victoria Line has used a similar automatic train operation system since it opened in 1968 and currently handles thirty-six tph.
  • The original system on the Victoria Line allowed twenty-seven tph. Not bad for a 1960s system, where some of the electronics was based on valves or vacuum tubes.

Remember though, that as in an airliner, there is always somebody monitoring everything for the unexpected.

 

October 7, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

A Journalist Wasn’t Disappointed

I said in this article a few days ago, that I was disappointed to not be able to walk through the Thames Tunnel.

But this article on Wired, describes a walk by a journalist who wasn’t!

Katie Collins was a lucky lady!

May 28, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , | 2 Comments

Could Transport for London Run A Tourist Train On The East London Line?

The East London Line of the London Overground is a railway line with lots of history, that runs through the Thames Tunnel, which was built my the father and son, Marc and Isambard Brunel.

Could it be turned into a tourist attraction for East London, without interfering with its main function as a valuable cross-river railway line?

In Berlin, they used to run a specially-converted panorama train on the S-bahn, but I couldn’t find it on my last visit.

Obviously, to have a non-standard train or two would be expensive, but small modifications might be possible to enhance its value to visitors, when all the other modifications that will happen are taken into account.

For example, I think that in a few years time, a substantial number of London’s buses and trains will have free or more likely sponsored wi-fi. So could a tourist commentary be broadcast through this to passengers? As I detailed in this post, you can already download audio guides for the Docklands Light Railway.

The East London Line is covered by four services to four destinations in the south and two in the north. All go through the Thames Tunnel, but one between Dalston Junction and New Cross stations is a fair bit shorter than the others and the service is scheduled with just two trains, shuttling north and south every fifteen minutes with a wait time at each end of the line of eleven minutes.

So how could these trains and stations be improved to provide a better service for visitors?

1. I don’t know about New Cross, but Dalston Junction doesn’t have a café, although I think at both stations, there is space on the platforms for a quality coffee stall.

2. If the trains were wi-fi enabled, the trains could have video cameras giving forward and backward views as the train progressed.

3. I would also put sideways facing lights on the two trains, so that, when passing through the Thames Tunnel, the Victorian structure could be illuminated. One of the good features on the Class 378 is that they have fairly wide windows, that give a good view.

4. On the Overground, many trains used to have a conductor.  But could a trained tourist guide/conductor be provided on these trains? I suspect they could.

The East London Line is a railway line unique in London and probably in the UK and the wider world, as where else do you pass through such an important Victorian tunnel, that is so rich in history and engineering, and is in such a superb state?

Assets should be made to sweat! Especially, where they have the potential to create jobs.

May 25, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Very Disappointed This Morning

One of my ambitions is to walk under the River Thames through the Thames Tunnel.

This weekend a walk through the tunnel is possible, as work on the line means no trains will be running. But all the tickets have gone!

I am very disappointed that I didn’t see the initial announcement. I suspect it was only displayed on the Brunel Museum website.

May 25, 2014 Posted by | Transport | | 4 Comments

An Historic Station On The Overground

Wapping station on the Overground is more or less unique. It is built into the access shaft that was used to build the Thames Tunnel, so must in some ways be the railway station in the world, with the oldest structure or building. It certainly has lots of brickwork and other interesting structures.

It’s also a good place to go to see trains going through the Thames Tunnel.

I sometimes wonder, what the well-known resident of Wapping, Alf Garnett would have thought of the Overground. Compared to the 1960s, the journey that Alf would take from Wapping to Upton Park to see West Ham United, is the same, but he would probably be complaining about the new trains on both lines, where you can walk from one end to the other.

March 2, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Open House – The Thames Tunnel Revealed

Because it was Open House, the floodlights were left on in the Thames Tunnel today.  I took these two pictures.

I did intend to take some more on my way back, but I was rather delayed.

Perhaps it would be a good idea, if Transport for London, lit up some of the disused stations on the Underground, so they could be seen from passing trains on the Open House weekend.

September 23, 2012 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Video of the Thames Tunnel

I went back to the Thames Tunnel on the East London line and took a video of an approaching train.

The video was taken from the same place where I took the still images in Wapping station.

February 7, 2012 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

Looking At the Thames Tunnel

The Thames Tunnel is the oldest underwater tunnel in the world and was built between 1825 and 1843 by Marc Brunel and his more famous son Isambard.  It is now used to carry the East London line under the Thames and you can actually look into the tunnel from the platforms at Wapping station.

I was looking from the Northbound platform, just by the exit and the stairs that lead up to the street. When the station was designed, they decided to put protective railing to stop you failing on the line, but these do not obscure the view down the tunnel as the train approaches.

January 26, 2012 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

What Would Mary Whitehouse Have Thought?

Twice in the last week, I’ve seen or heard of risque cabaret in unusual places.

On Tuesday, we were informed on our trip to the entrance of the Thames Tunnel, that dancers had performed the can-can in the space.

Then on Friday at the Zoo was what they called a Twisted Cabaret, which included a compere, singers, a burlesque dancer and a fire-eater.

Is this all a taste of what we will be seeing in 2012, with the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee?

July 31, 2011 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment